How Do I Help a Coworker Seek Addiction Treatment?

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/16/2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you think one of your coworkers may need to seek addiction treatment, it is important to handle the situation calmly and with respect to their needs and the needs of others. Telling someone they may require addiction treatment, especially someone you are not close to, can become volatile, so consider the tips below and do some research on the subject before you act.

Make Observations

It is important to be sure that there really is a serious problem with someone before you start referring them to treatment or even discussing the issue further. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Several behaviors regarding job performance indicate a high likelihood that an employee has problematic alcohol or drug use.” These include:

  • A pattern of poor quality work
  • Continuous attendance problems
  • Continuous issues with late work or work not turned in at all
  • Consistent problems interacting with customers or other coworkers

    Coworker Seek Addiction Treatment

    Tardy and poor quality work are common indicators of a substance abuse problem.

  • Sleeping on the job
  • Constant excuses for work not done on time or done right
  • Frequent and severe outbursts of anger or depression
  • Drug or alcohol abuse while at work
  • Frequent long breaks or leaving consistently in the middle of the day

Someone who displays these issues consistently and who does not show other reasons for them is likely to be addicted to drugs or alcohol. These individuals will often need professional treatment, and it is important they receive it. You must still act within your place as an employee of the company, though, and be respectful to your fellow coworkers.

Talk to Your Supervisor

This issue may or may not have already come to your supervisor’s attention. It is important to have documented information about what happened at what time, how the individual dealt with certain issues, and what you saw. You should always be professional when discussing these issues and remember that your ultimate goal is to help the person get better.

Employee Assistance Programs and Treatment

If the issue is handled through your workplace, there are certain programs that will help facilitate treatment and other things the individual needs. The CDC states, “Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can offer information and referral services for employees with alcohol or drug use problems,” and these programs are usually how most companies help their employees begin treatment. Other options also exist within many companies like wellness fairs, company 12-step programs, etc., but it is very important the individual receives professional treatment as well.

Talk to Your Coworker

If you feel that the issue cannot be handled in this way or nothing is being solved by going through the proper channels, it can be beneficial to bring up the problem directly to your coworker. It still must be stressed, though, how important respect is to this delicate situation.

  • Try to use “I” statements instead of putting all the blame directly on your coworker (“I’ve noticed…” versus “You…”).
  • Do so at a time where others are not listening so your coworker won’t feel ganged up on.
  • Avoid getting angry and try at all times to stay calm.
  • If the individual is not receptive, understand you cannot force them to be.